THE BARD OF BEER, THE MAVEN OF MALT: Call him whatever alliterative, king-making title you like, but Michael Jackson (his highness of hops?) is the undisputed grand poobah of beer and whisky, and he's coming here this weekend to lead you in a tasting of and discussion regarding his favorite topic--tasty hooch. Saturday afternoon will see 300 lucky souls tasting eight rare, single-malt scotch whiskies, including never-before-seen in the U.S. agings of 27-year-old Invergordon, 29-year-old whisky from the Isle of Jura (the sheep-heavy island where 1984 was written), a 27-year-old aging of the highland malt Bruichladdich, and a 27-year-old aging of Tullibradine, from a small distillery south of Perth. Beer-lovers get their shot Sunday evening when a tasting will feature six cask-conditioned ales, three from the United States, and three flown in from Great Britain, including at least one from the great MacClay brewery north of Edinburgh. Both tastings use the same format: Pours are followed by discussion led by Mr. Jackson, and whenever you've all said all there is to say and tasted all there is to taste, a vast buffet meal follows. $35 for each tasting, meal included. Call 931-0203 for further information and reservations.

THE OTHER FESTIVE TABLE: Pick up a copy of Ronni Lundy's The Festive Table, an American alternative-celebration (Cajun Thanksgiving, a Mexican New Year's, and a Minnesota Sukkoth) cookbook, and you can dazzle your pals with nifty recipes and bits of smart trivia, like this on the genesis of the sundae.

Lundy writes, "There are records of fruit ices and cream ices in European history as early as the 16th century and recipes in English cookbooks of the 18th century. But it was an American woman, Nancy Johnson, who invented the hand-cranked freezer in 1846, and it wasn't long before ice cream was being manufactured commercially and eaten heartily throughout the country. Ice-cream sodas were the rage in the Gay '90s, but in the Midwest they were deemed somewhat wicked--at least enough that laws were passed forbidding their consumption on Sundays. To get around such laws sodas sans fizz were served, and that's how these concoctions of ice cream and toppings got the name 'sundae.'"

AMAZE YOUR FRIENDS: According to The American Dictionary of Food and Drink, 7-Up was originally marketed in St. Louis under the gorgeous name "Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda," but then the inventor, Charles L. Griggs, got to admiring cattle brands "as a simple and clear method of identification. Reading a newspaper article about several cattle brands, Griggs saw a reference to one that consisted of the numeral 7 with an adjacent letter u. So cattle were the real inspiration for the 7-Up name."

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